Addiction Prevention and Aftercare

When an individual completes a drug treatment or alcohol treatment program, they do not simply walk outside the door of the facility and immediately enjoy a sober life free of challenges.   On the contrary, there are an entirely new series of challenges awaiting the individuals upon completion of a rehab program.   To help the individual more effectively cope with these situations (and avoid relapse) there are prevention and aftercare programs.

Why is Substance Abuse Prevention and Aftercare Important?

Before we discuss the different types of addiction prevention and aftercare, it is a good idea to review some of the issues that a newly minted sober individual is likely to face in the days and weeks following treatment.   These include:

  • Temptation.   An individual who returns to a destructive environment may immediately be presented with a chance to relapse.   Old friends who use are a common source of temptation as they “welcome” the individual back home in the most destructive way imaginable.
  • Stress.  One of the most common “triggers” for substance abuse is stress.   So the question arises, how will the individual deal with life stressors when they return home after treatment?
  • Relationships.   Rebuilding broken trust with friends and family members can be difficult.  Although the recovering addict is excited about their new life, not everyone may be ready to forgive them.

What are the Most Important Types of Aftercare Programs?

Among the best ways to help individuals maintain their sobriety are:

  • 12-step groups.   Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous are two of the most common forms of 12-step groups – where recovering addicts gather together for regular meetings to share stories and support one another.
  • Follow-up counseling.  Often, recovering addicts will return to the addiction treatment facility for follow-up counseling with their therapists.   These sessions act as a kind of “tune up” in the individual’s ongoing efforts to maintain sobriety.
  • Sober living.  Sober house living is a chance to make a smooth transition back into daily life.   These facilities house recovering addicts who need to rebuild self-reliance, or may feel a little bit uncertain about taking on all the aspects of a “regular life” immediately following treatment.

How long do Prevention and Aftercare Programs last?

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While it would be nice to say that aftercare programs only need be attended for a few weeks after drug and alcohol treatment, the reality is that many people should consider attending them over the long haul.   There is no “cure” for alcoholism or drug addiction.  Success is obtained by taking recovery one day at a time and never feeling as if you have completely overcome the problem.   Aftercare programs such as 12-step groups provide this ongoing care and support – and help make alcohol and drug prevention a reality for many years to come.

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